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An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a de An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. Forcing us to confront this history, America for Americans explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen.


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An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a de An award-winning historian reframes our continuing debate over immigration with a compelling history of xenophobia in the United States and its devastating impact The United States is known as a nation of immigrants. But it is also a nation of xenophobia. In America for Americans, Erika Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Germans for their "strange and foreign ways." Americans' anxiety over Irish Catholics turned xenophobia into a national political movement. Chinese immigrants were excluded, Japanese incarcerated, and Mexicans deported. Today, Americans fear Muslims, Latinos, and the so-called browning of America. Forcing us to confront this history, America for Americans explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America. It is a necessary corrective and spur to action for any concerned citizen.

30 review for America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Disclaimer: Erika Lee is my sister. She is also a SUPER STUD/award-winning historian and this is her fourth book! It is outstanding, informative, disturbing, and... SHOCKING! From her Washington Post Perspective published on 11/26/19 entitled, "Trump’s xenophobia is an American tradition — but it doesn’t have to be," "...the truth is that xenophobia has always been a central part of American life. It is an American tradition that shapes our worldview, mobilizes voters and generates profits. It in Disclaimer: Erika Lee is my sister. She is also a SUPER STUD/award-winning historian and this is her fourth book! It is outstanding, informative, disturbing, and... SHOCKING! From her Washington Post Perspective published on 11/26/19 entitled, "Trump’s xenophobia is an American tradition — but it doesn’t have to be," "...the truth is that xenophobia has always been a central part of American life. It is an American tradition that shapes our worldview, mobilizes voters and generates profits. It influences our international relations and dictates domestic policy. And it is a form of racism and discrimination that has threatened the democratic ideals upon which this country was founded." Benjamin Franklin was worried about the Germans. Samuel Morse thought Catholic immigrants were an "insidious invasion." Chinese immigrants were excluded from immigrating in 1882. Italian, Jewish, and Eastern Europeans in the 1890's were labeled as "inferior." Mexicans living in the US (60% of whom were US citizens) were deported back to Mexico during the Great Depression. During WWII, Japanese Americans (including American citizens) were put in internment "camps." And more recently, Muslim Americans and children have been targeted. I bought both the Kindle version and the Audible audiobook so I could switch back and forth. Both were outstanding. I learned much that was completely new to me. Clearly meticulously researched and told as history should be: as a story well-told. Personal stories of real people bring the history alive. *Ms. Magazine's November 2019 Reads for the Rest of Us *USA Today’s “5 Books Not to Miss" (11/23/19) Time Magazine’s “Here Are the 11 New Books You Should Read in November”: Library Journal review: "This thoroughly researched, informative, and lucid work is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, and how it influences the current political environment." Publishers Weekly review: "This clearly organized and lucidly written book should be read by a wide audience. " Lest you think that this book is depressing, take heart: the *other* American tradition Erika writes about is... challenging and resisting xenophobia. Many stories of brave people who stood up to the bullies/racists/poor examples of humanity are throughout this book. So proud!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    University of Minnesota Professor Erika Lee has argued convincingly in this book that although Americans like to think of themselves as constituting a nation of immigrants, xenophobia (meaning anxiety for foreigners) has nonetheless marred American history from the 1700s to the present. In other words, fear of immigrants living in the United States is not just a phenomenon from our own time. Through archival research, she reaches all the way back to the mid-eighteenth century to make clear to re University of Minnesota Professor Erika Lee has argued convincingly in this book that although Americans like to think of themselves as constituting a nation of immigrants, xenophobia (meaning anxiety for foreigners) has nonetheless marred American history from the 1700s to the present. In other words, fear of immigrants living in the United States is not just a phenomenon from our own time. Through archival research, she reaches all the way back to the mid-eighteenth century to make clear to readers that the headlines we see in today's newspapers instead have long roots in the American past. She begins with anxiety for German immigrants in the colonial era, then moves onto Irish Catholics, the Chinese, southeastern Europeans, the Japanese, Mexicans, and Muslims. Lee demonstrates in her clear and engaging writing that the targets of hostility have evolved over time (the Europeans once considered threatening are now widely considered the "good immigrants" by xenophobes who try to restrict Mexicans and Muslims), yet xenophobia has remained constant from the eighteenth century through the present day. For all those who believe that the humane treatment of immigrants is a positive for the United States, as this author does, Lee has delivered a thoughtful and well-researched account of how Americans have often deviated from this so we can seek to avoid the mistakes of the past.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    As Professor Lee aptly describes it, the history of America is "the history of its violent xenophobia," which even today, "maintains a tenacious grip on the United States." "In both the past and present, xenophobes have argued that immigrants are threats. But its xenophobia, not immigration, that is our gravest threat today."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Persis

    America is a nation of immigrants but also a nation with a history of xenophobia. Lee walks us through the history of the latter and how being an "American" was defined and who had the power to make those definitions. If you want to maintain an idealistic view of our country, this will be a difficult book to read. However, we need to be honest about our history IMO for there to be any substantive change in how we treat one another. As Christians we also have to wrestle with the fact that we have America is a nation of immigrants but also a nation with a history of xenophobia. Lee walks us through the history of the latter and how being an "American" was defined and who had the power to make those definitions. If you want to maintain an idealistic view of our country, this will be a difficult book to read. However, we need to be honest about our history IMO for there to be any substantive change in how we treat one another. As Christians we also have to wrestle with the fact that we have heavenly citizenship as well as earthly and the values of Christ's kingdom should determine how we live here and now.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Drew Reilly

    This is a must read. I have had this book on my "Want to Read" list since I first heard about it in a Politico article in May. I anxiously awaited its release, until I was able to get a copy of it last week. Professor Lee does a fantastic job at summarizing the history of America's Anti-Immigration movement and policies. I'd urge anyone with a passion for immigration justice or social justice to give this a read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    This book is clearly inspired by the age of Trump. While the US likes to see itself as a nation of immigrants, Lee notes the counter-tendency is also true and deeply part of our national history: a history of xenophobia. She traces the early days of it, from Ben Franklin opposing Germans (only to see Germans mobilize at the ballot box), the Know-Nothing opposition to Catholics, the late 19th century anti-Chinese movement (which created the first classification of immigrating illegal), to the "sc This book is clearly inspired by the age of Trump. While the US likes to see itself as a nation of immigrants, Lee notes the counter-tendency is also true and deeply part of our national history: a history of xenophobia. She traces the early days of it, from Ben Franklin opposing Germans (only to see Germans mobilize at the ballot box), the Know-Nothing opposition to Catholics, the late 19th century anti-Chinese movement (which created the first classification of immigrating illegal), to the "scientific racism of the IRL which led to the quota acts. The book gets off to a slow start, but comes alive more in the last 100 years. She discussing the anti-Mexican movement and racial marginization that led to widespread deportations during the Great Depression. The WWII anti-Japanese actions were predated by decades of "Yellow Peril" rhetoric. The best parts focus on the recent era of immigration: 1965-onward. Lee notes how opponents of the landmark 1965 act denounced it for possibly letting the "wrong" races in - while defenders didn't try to rebut the racism, just said it wouldn't let in many Asians or Africans. At this time, Plymouth Rock gave way to Ellis Island as central to Americans self-identity. By 2000, Mexico made up 30% of all immigrants, but there was an increasing visa backlog in Mexico. It could take up to 9 years (!!) to get a visa to come to the US. By 2012, 1.2 million Mexicans were waiting on a visa. Also, Lee makes one very interesting point I hadn't realized about the 1965 act: it actually reduced the level of Mexicans coming here. Under the bracero program from the 1940s to 1964, 4.6 million guest workers came. The new cap was 20,000 Mexicans (by 1976). The worldwide cap was 290,000 (reduced to 270,000 in 1980). Mexico had equal status to Togo - which defies common sense. It led to what Lee describes as discrimination under the guise of non-discrimination. Also, family reunification standards for the two hemispheres wasn't the same. For the other one, it applied to citizens and permanent residents. But it was just permanent residents for western hemisphere migrants. In recent decades, Lee draws a direct line from Prop 187 to Trump. The idea of illegal immigration was established by the late 1970s. Prop 187 linked illegal immigrants to crime. There was an old tradition of "good" and "bad" immigrants which was racialized more than ever. Buchanan fretted over white displacement. Bill Clinton sought to be tough on immigration, combining it with criminal policy ("crimmingration"). Border patrols went up. The idea of Mexicans as a criminal invasion long preceded Trump and his border wall. Trump's Muslim ban opposes ALL immigrants, not just illegal ones. Negative stereotypes for Arabs and Muslims were well in place by the 1990s. Islamaphobia was intertwined with groups like Fox News - or even the New York Times. In this book, Trump doesn't come out of nowhere - he's the result of trends both recent and long-lasting in America. In an epilogue Lee notes that opposing xenophobia is also an American tradition, and hopes it wins out. But she's annoyed how even defenders of immigrants do it in half-measures, and how we now let xenophobes set the debate by talking of border security over all else. I think she makes some good points here, but I think she goes a bit far - politicians gonna politician. I give it 4 stars, but it's close to 5 stars. The opening chapters really were a bit of a rehash of things I already knew. The best part was the section on the 1965 Act and how it hurt Mexican immigrants. Overall, it's a great book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    A well-researched, timely, and thorough examination of the United States’ established and violent history of state-sanctioned xenophobia. As Lee deftly demonstrates, “Xenophobia has never been fully excised from the United States, it has merely evolved.” Many Americans often tout the United States as “a nation of immigrants,” despite deporting more immigrants than any other nation since 1882 (55 million+), which enables a damaging historical amnesia to persist. Lee argues, “It is time to reset t A well-researched, timely, and thorough examination of the United States’ established and violent history of state-sanctioned xenophobia. As Lee deftly demonstrates, “Xenophobia has never been fully excised from the United States, it has merely evolved.” Many Americans often tout the United States as “a nation of immigrants,” despite deporting more immigrants than any other nation since 1882 (55 million+), which enables a damaging historical amnesia to persist. Lee argues, “It is time to reset the terms of the debate [about immigration and xenophobia],” and this book is certainly an excellent way to reset and reframe that debate.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Zu

    A must-read for all Americans!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Lee offers an insightful examination of the troubling truth that the United States, known as a nation of immigrants, is also a nation of xenophobia, and the reasons for this disturbing paradox. She reveals that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants is a defining feature of our nation from the colonial era to the Trump administration. A finely detailed, compelling, and accessible history.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nia (FaydrielReads)

    Historian Erika Lee does an incredible job walking us through American xenophobia from the very beginning with Irish immigrants to the shift that white european immigrants are seen as "good" and immigrants from all other countries are concerned "bad". I have to praise Lee for her writing. History books are usually not my favorite because they are dry. Lee does such an amazing job at keeping the book engaging, interesting, and approachable for people like me who might not love to read history as Historian Erika Lee does an incredible job walking us through American xenophobia from the very beginning with Irish immigrants to the shift that white european immigrants are seen as "good" and immigrants from all other countries are concerned "bad". I have to praise Lee for her writing. History books are usually not my favorite because they are dry. Lee does such an amazing job at keeping the book engaging, interesting, and approachable for people like me who might not love to read history as much as they do. This book should be required reading for all Americans.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joel W.

    A topic that has gripped our national conversation over the past few years that goes straight to the core of American identity is: are we a "nation of immigrants" or should we build a giant wall (literally and figuratively)? Erika Lee's well-researched and accessible historical narrative about xenophobia in the United States makes the argument that these competing views have existed alongside one another since the country's founding. Whether it was German immigrants in the 18th century, Irish an A topic that has gripped our national conversation over the past few years that goes straight to the core of American identity is: are we a "nation of immigrants" or should we build a giant wall (literally and figuratively)? Erika Lee's well-researched and accessible historical narrative about xenophobia in the United States makes the argument that these competing views have existed alongside one another since the country's founding. Whether it was German immigrants in the 18th century, Irish and Chinese in the 19th, Italians, Jews, Japanese, and Mexicans in the 20th, or Mexicans and Muslims in the 21st, America has wrestled with the question of what posture to take towards whoever the "stranger" happens to be at a given time and place. For Lee, Xenophobia has been a "constant and defining feature of American life...deeply embedded in our society, economy, and politics. It thrives best in certain contexts, such as periods of rapid economic and demographic change, but it has also been actively promoted by special interests in the pursuit of political power…. Xenophobia has been neither an aberration nor a contradiction to the United States' history of immigration. Rather, it has existed alongside and constrained America's immigration tradition, determining just who can enter our so-called nation of immigrants and who cannot" (p. 7). Folks interested in gaining fluency in the social and historical contexts that underlie present debates about immigration and refugee policies will find Lee's book helpful and informative.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    This book was an excellent overview of the intersection of anti-immigrant and racist sentiments. While the author is partisan and opinionated, she uses history and evidence well. My favorite part was the previously obscure story of mass deportations and detentions of Japanese people living in *Latin America* during WWII. While many people, myself included, knew about the EO 9066 Japanese internment in the US, I had never hear of this story before, and it deserves wider awareness. My critiques wo This book was an excellent overview of the intersection of anti-immigrant and racist sentiments. While the author is partisan and opinionated, she uses history and evidence well. My favorite part was the previously obscure story of mass deportations and detentions of Japanese people living in *Latin America* during WWII. While many people, myself included, knew about the EO 9066 Japanese internment in the US, I had never hear of this story before, and it deserves wider awareness. My critiques would be that the book lacked a robust thesis or several clear threads or themes to tie the various periods of history together. Lee's point about xenophobia being as much a part of the American story as immigration itself was clear, but not as compelling or useful as I would have liked it to be. Also, while this problem might have been unique to the audiobook version I listened to, Lee had an unfortunate habit of being too general when discussion controversy, citing "critics" or other vague groups without getting into specific scholars. This may have been a function of Lee aiming for a popular audience, but the lack of specific, especially in critiques of modern politicians, undermined some of her more modern arguments.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “America for Americans: a history of xenophobia in the United States,” by Erika Lee (Basic Books, 2019). Fear of the foreigner has always been with us (whomever we may be) from before the founding of the nation. Benjamin Franklin (!) was worried about all the Germans moving into Pennsylvania: swarthy, don’t want to learn English, stick together, all that stuff. Franklin was smart and adaptable enough to get over that particular phobia. But Lee argues (and demonstrates over and over and over) tha “America for Americans: a history of xenophobia in the United States,” by Erika Lee (Basic Books, 2019). Fear of the foreigner has always been with us (whomever we may be) from before the founding of the nation. Benjamin Franklin (!) was worried about all the Germans moving into Pennsylvania: swarthy, don’t want to learn English, stick together, all that stuff. Franklin was smart and adaptable enough to get over that particular phobia. But Lee argues (and demonstrates over and over and over) that “Americans” have feared outsiders coming in and ---diluting, taking over, weakening, changing the nature of---the nation. And the arguments are always the same: they’re dirty, stupid, ignorant, promiscuous, un-democratic, don’t understand the culture. The Irish. The Italians. the Jews. The Japanese. The Mexicans. The Muslims. The Eastern Europeans. The Chinese---oh my, the Chinese. The first overt official national anti-immigrant legislation was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. At least that made no secret of its purpose, no disguises. One of Lee’s grandfathers got into the country using false papers. He was an illegal undocumented etc. Besides her detailed documentation of the continuous and ongoing fear of foreigners Lee presents, she also argues that the fundamental motive beneath much of this is race. Not just Africans, but non-Protestants, non-Nordic, non-whatever white is defined as over the decades. She also shows that many legislators whose memories are somewhat celebrated were just as xenophobic and racist as the most brazen Ku Kluxers. Teddy Roosevelt, of course. But Congressman Emanuel Celler? She points out that, while the US has accepted millions of immigrants, it has also deported over 55 million immigrants since 1882. Mexicans: the country has been very weird about them. First we want them as farm workers, and encourage them to come. Then we decide, nah---send ’em back to Mexico. In California there were campaigns to encourage Mexicans to leave by the trainload. The Anglophone US has always been afraid of the Spanish roots of much of the country. After all, Latinos have been in the continental US far longer than the English. And of course, we currently have the most overtly, proudly xenophobic president in many a decade (plenty of previous administrations have been clearly anti-immigrant. Unless they are the right kind of immigrant). Trump would love to have Norwegians come here. Problem is, the Norwegians are content to stay where they are. A disheartening book---although the passion and anger she brings to the work are exhilarating. To my chagrin, I found myself agreeing with some of the arguments being used against immigrants these days. Lee would have some sort of regulation of immigration, but it needs to be rational, not racist and political. Maybe, depending on how the next few elections go. http://erikalee.org/america-for-ameri...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy D.

    During the first half of the Trump Administration, as the sun rose on American outrage toward the separation of families at the border, toward the multiple muslim bans, toward the violence and the arrogance of Charlottesville, opponents argued that it was unbecoming of our American values, that these callous and careless actions were inhumane and cruel, while defenders made a different case, that Obama was no different, that a bunch of other administrations were just as bad, and that this outrag During the first half of the Trump Administration, as the sun rose on American outrage toward the separation of families at the border, toward the multiple muslim bans, toward the violence and the arrogance of Charlottesville, opponents argued that it was unbecoming of our American values, that these callous and careless actions were inhumane and cruel, while defenders made a different case, that Obama was no different, that a bunch of other administrations were just as bad, and that this outrage was selectively aimed at one unlikeable president in particular. Both were tragically right. And both were frustratingly wrong. For the opponents and the defenders, Erika Lee would argue, rightly, that our American values have always been split between our “city on a hill” optimism about immigration and our “get out and stay the hell out” paranoia of foreigners who share the same soil, that it is not just a “Trump” thing, or an “Obama” thing, but an “American” thing. To say that “our values” are being compromised in the separation of families, in the marches of white nationalism, in the banning of religious minorities, one might just as easily argue, from anywhere in the nation or the world paying attention, that our cruelty and our aggressive animosity toward immigrants, toward “the other,” has always been loud and well documented, even if we prefer to think of ourselves, our record, and our history as largely cleared of wrongdoing. Acts of American xenophobia are not occasional failures of misjudgment, rooted in the fringes of society. Acts of American xenophobia are the norm, rooted in the most plain and obvious institutions of society. And the more we push that truth down, the more we pretend the problems lie somewhere else, with someone else, so long as we see never concede the villainous pattern of our history, we will continue to be the contradictory and hypocritical heroes of the world in our own eyes. Thank you, Erika Lee, for putting it all there, plain, obvious, and undeniable for anyone whose eyes are open.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    The Muslim ban. The border wall. Banning people from certain countries from coming to the United States. Sending refugees who have been living in the United States for decades back to their country of origin. Author Lee takes the reader though a history of xenophobia in the United States, from the earliest suspicions of Germans to the Muslim ban of today. The book is divided by topic in roughly chronological order (sometimes in order to give more context there's some going back in time). It was a The Muslim ban. The border wall. Banning people from certain countries from coming to the United States. Sending refugees who have been living in the United States for decades back to their country of origin. Author Lee takes the reader though a history of xenophobia in the United States, from the earliest suspicions of Germans to the Muslim ban of today. The book is divided by topic in roughly chronological order (sometimes in order to give more context there's some going back in time). It was an interesting and sad look and how xenophobia, racism, fear of "others" has a history that predates the United States as a concept. We are better than this? Not sure about that. As you can probably tell, it's not a happy book but also one that's needed. Overall, though, I thought the previous book I've read by her ('The Making of Asian America') was better. This one felt like a lot of dates and names tacked together but not quite as interesting as the previous entry, perhaps because she's trying to cover so many groups in a relatively short book. And while I learned a bit about Germans and Irish Catholics, some of the current events might be repetitive (depends on how much you've kept up with the news). I also somewhat object to the title. "America" and the "United States" are not necessarily synonymous. And while I appreciated Lee did cover the internment of Japanese people who were living in/were born in Latin American countries, I hesitate a bit on the title (same with 'Making'). Minor quibble, though. But all the same, it's still a good and necessary read. Borrowed from the library but wouldn't be surprised if this is a book that pops up in school syllabi. It's definitely readable without it, though.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Don

    The title quickly summarizes what this book covers, and it does it in a series of chapters each looking at a different time in American history - from colonial times to modern day - and what the primary target of the Xenophobia was, and how it manifested itself. The underlying and prevalent theme in the book is that the tools used in furtherance of individuals and societies xenophobia build on one another in addition to repeating one another. In addition, the same prejudicial language is used to The title quickly summarizes what this book covers, and it does it in a series of chapters each looking at a different time in American history - from colonial times to modern day - and what the primary target of the Xenophobia was, and how it manifested itself. The underlying and prevalent theme in the book is that the tools used in furtherance of individuals and societies xenophobia build on one another in addition to repeating one another. In addition, the same prejudicial language is used to describe the various reviled immigrant of the moment, whether it be Irish Catholics in antebellum America, the Chinese following the American civil war, or non Western European in the early 1900s, all the way to the strain of Islamophobia that has existed for the last 20 years when it comes to immigration. At certain times and in certain chapters, I thought that perhaps the writing could have been more concise or less repetitive; on the flip side, it hammered the author's thesis home. If nothing else, the book highly supports the saying that while history may not repeat itself, it most certainly rhymes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Solis

    Erika Lee put together a very comprehensive and understandable book of the history behind xenophobia in America. She did this brilliantly, as she started with the roots of xenophobia and how it has historically seeded itself into the fabric of the United States. What I enjoyed most was her ability to address this hatred and rampant prejudice group by group. From Germans to Italians to Irish, and then moving her way into non-white populations which faced vastly stronger hate and derision in the n Erika Lee put together a very comprehensive and understandable book of the history behind xenophobia in America. She did this brilliantly, as she started with the roots of xenophobia and how it has historically seeded itself into the fabric of the United States. What I enjoyed most was her ability to address this hatred and rampant prejudice group by group. From Germans to Italians to Irish, and then moving her way into non-white populations which faced vastly stronger hate and derision in the name of manifest destiny and eugenics. Certainly a book I would recommend to anyone who does not know the lengths that American history has gone to keep America a nation of WASP's and Euro-centric. What I enjoyed also about Lee's America for Americans was how new and up to date it is with the current Trump administration and it's blatantly biased and racist policies, and how it is nearly identically vilifying of immigrants just as was the case 100 years to 200 years prior. Lee does an excellent job at peeling the layers and exposing the roots of prejudice in America and the lengths people even today will go to condone it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt Coyne

    A very well written yet very distressing book. It's not a great comfort to know that the current wave of xenophobia in America is nothing new. There has always been resentment for new arrivals to this country, and the language used to disparage immigrants has not changed much over the years. I really liked this book and learned a lot, but I did find the chapters to be repetitive and demoralizing. There are unique facts worth tuning in to in each chapter, but the negative things that xenophobes sa A very well written yet very distressing book. It's not a great comfort to know that the current wave of xenophobia in America is nothing new. There has always been resentment for new arrivals to this country, and the language used to disparage immigrants has not changed much over the years. I really liked this book and learned a lot, but I did find the chapters to be repetitive and demoralizing. There are unique facts worth tuning in to in each chapter, but the negative things that xenophobes say (these people don't assimilate, are criminals, are unclean, etc.) are very consistent and echo frequently across the pages. If you don't want to experience the repetitive and shameful history in every chapter, I would recommend reading the introduction, the conclusion, then any middle chapter about groups you want to learn more about. I found the chapters on the Chinese and Muslim mistreatment especially interesting and surprising. Read this book, but maybe not from cover to cover.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    This was a great overview of the very prevalent historical racism and antipathy toward the foreigner in the US and how that has translated into both law and action from nativists throughout its shameful history. Lee starts at the country’s founding and works her way through all of the well and little known examples of fear and dismissal of the ‘other’ – along the way she reveals so many less heard of instances such as the way that Japanese descendants in Peru were swept up in the US fervor to ap This was a great overview of the very prevalent historical racism and antipathy toward the foreigner in the US and how that has translated into both law and action from nativists throughout its shameful history. Lee starts at the country’s founding and works her way through all of the well and little known examples of fear and dismissal of the ‘other’ – along the way she reveals so many less heard of instances such as the way that Japanese descendants in Peru were swept up in the US fervor to apprehend and incarcerate offspring of that country during the second world war. The last few chapters bring into sharp focus the ongoing issues that still pervade US policy whether it be the quota system instituted in the 60’s that has had ripple effects in the past 50 years to the recent Muslim bans which show that nativist fears are all too real and still widespread in our society today.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    In this book, Erika Lee takes a close, careful look at the United States as a country of immigrants where each new group is disparaged by those who came before (except for native Americans who were disparaged by those who arrived in their lands). Lee tries to figure out how/why this country that touts its status as a country of immigrants also has a major amount of xenophobia (fear of "others"). She starts with the first white settles - the British on the Mayflower, then explores every new surge In this book, Erika Lee takes a close, careful look at the United States as a country of immigrants where each new group is disparaged by those who came before (except for native Americans who were disparaged by those who arrived in their lands). Lee tries to figure out how/why this country that touts its status as a country of immigrants also has a major amount of xenophobia (fear of "others"). She starts with the first white settles - the British on the Mayflower, then explores every new surge of peoples thereafter - the Chinese, Irish, Eastern Europeans, Mexicans, Japanese, blacks, refugees and Muslims. It is a fascinating, but often very disturbing expose' that hits topics omitted from most history books. It is very worthwhile reading.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Empson

    Accepting that African and Native Americans have always been bottom of the barrel, the book offers a history of prejudice towards immigrants, based on national origin, perception of race & genetics and finally of religion - each and every one of which seems contrary to the underlying beliefs of what this country and its constitution stand for. Read as a well researched book about immigration policy for the general public, it succeeds both at the level of readability and of intelectual rigor. At Accepting that African and Native Americans have always been bottom of the barrel, the book offers a history of prejudice towards immigrants, based on national origin, perception of race & genetics and finally of religion - each and every one of which seems contrary to the underlying beliefs of what this country and its constitution stand for. Read as a well researched book about immigration policy for the general public, it succeeds both at the level of readability and of intelectual rigor. At the same time, as legal immigrant, I found it increasingly depressing that my fellow citizens could hold such inaccurate and unjust beliefs, or act with such a lack of empathy and humanity.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Americans think of themselves as a nation of immigrants. Yet, the United States has been largely hostile to immigrants. This book provides a history, illustrated by ample examples of xenophobia, or fear of the other, in American history from Benjamin Franklin's attacks on German immigrants in the 1740s to Donald Trump's putting children in cages at the border. Its upsetting, disappointing, and chilling at times. If there is a positive aspect it is that groups can be accepted into the mainstream, Americans think of themselves as a nation of immigrants. Yet, the United States has been largely hostile to immigrants. This book provides a history, illustrated by ample examples of xenophobia, or fear of the other, in American history from Benjamin Franklin's attacks on German immigrants in the 1740s to Donald Trump's putting children in cages at the border. Its upsetting, disappointing, and chilling at times. If there is a positive aspect it is that groups can be accepted into the mainstream, but, sadly, that is usually because a new group is seen as a threat.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Fascinating, but very sad, look at American policies and practices against immigrants. So much I didn't realize -- early preferences for Northern Europeans only, policies against people from Asia (including pressure on Peru to keep those of Japanese ancestry out of that country during World War II), etc. How current antagonism toward Muslims and Latin Americans is part of an ongoing, but very destructive pattern.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ley

    Despite being a nation of immigrants, Americans have always viewed immigrants with suspicion. This is a great book to see how the same arguments are used over and over again to target immigrants and American citizens on the basis of perceived nationality, religion, and skin color. The research is excellent, though the way the chapters are written causes a lot of repetition.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason Park

    Political opinions on immigration shouldn't rely on stereotypes and misinformation. This book helps readers to avoid those pitfalls and provides a history that puts these conversations in context. My full review: https://medium.com/park-recommendatio... Political opinions on immigration shouldn't rely on stereotypes and misinformation. This book helps readers to avoid those pitfalls and provides a history that puts these conversations in context. My full review: https://medium.com/park-recommendatio...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Celine

    An extensive review of the United States' racist and xenophobic history. Current immigration policy should surprise no one with the background of what this country has done to dissuade, marginalize, deceive, and deport entire groups of people.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amelious Whyte

    This is a great book. I learned a lot (much of it embarrassing as an American) about the long and shameful history of xenophobia in our country and the way it's impacted and is impacting our laws, and our people. Hopefully we can learn from our collective mistakes as a nation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    A really good comprehensive review of xenophobia in the U.S. It read a little like a textbook, though an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand textbook. This should be required reading in all high schools and colleges.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    One of those necessary books that connects the dots of history to illuminate the present moment. Like Ibram Kendi’s thesis of a dueling racist and anti-racist history. Erica Lee lays bare the paradox of America’s history as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of xenophobes.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    NICE BOOK.

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